Benjamin Katz is the official photographer of the European art scene. From Josef Beuys to Georg Baselitz by way of Jörg Immendorff, Gerhard Richter and Markus Lüpertz, not a single painter nor sculpter, nor even an art critic has managed to escape his lens. And the list doesn’t end there: other artists he has crossed paths with include Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Daniel Buren, Pierre Restany, Niele Toroni, Keith Haring, and more. Katz allows us to discover the faces behind the works, and often gives us a glimpse of the creative process.

Benjamin Katz grew up in Belgium. In 1956, he moved to Berlin to study at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin. A severe case of tuberculosis forced him to interrupt his studies for eighteen months, while he recovered in a sanatorium. During his stay, he took his first remarkable photographs, training his lens on other patients, the staff, and his surroundings. In 1963, he founded the Werner & Katz Gallery with Michael Werner, where he played an active role through 1969. During that time, he developed steadfast relationships with all the artists the gallery hosted. He then moved to Cologne, where he began photographing his friends with a basic camera in 1976. In their studios, Katz is always discreet, forgoing flash and poses, to give us direct access to what happens behind the scenes of the creative process. Armed with patience and goodwill, Benjamin Katz is careful to disappear into the artist’s private space, to capture Penck as he seems to dance before a canvas, or Bazelitz about to start work on a giant sculpture, chainsaw in hand.

Katz also does landscapes, particularly in Dinard, one of his favorite haunts. Completely devoid of human presence, these photographs seem to provide a breath of fresh air in the very heart of his work: after the bustle of exhibition openings, the peaceful calm of seaside landscapes creates works imbued with classicism and poetry. 

La Société des Amis du Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris donated a collection of more than 230 period photographs to the museum, including several important series on artists in the permanent collection, like Eugène Leroy (48 photos), as well as portraits of artists who have played a crucial role in the history of art in the 20th century. For this exhibition, we have selected a representative range to provide a unique perspective on the art world from the 1970s through to today. 

Curator: Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais